There's an award-winning pizza crust in Denver, and you can find it at more than one restaurant — including eateries already known for great pizza, like the Good Son, Lala's Wine Bar + Pizzeria, the Crafty Fox, Denver Deep Dish and Silvi's Kitchens. The Gluten Free Explorer, a Denver gluten-free bakery founded by Victoria Wolf just last year, makes thin-crust and deep-dish pizza crusts that it sells to a growing number of restaurants around the metro area. And Wolf just recently won first place in the gluten-free division of the International Pizza Challenge in Las Vegas, beating out some thirty other bakers from around the world.
Wolf has followed a gluten-free diet since 2007, but at the time, she swore that she would never attempt to make gluten-free baked goods at home, since she wasn't much of a baker and didn't want to have to settle for an inferior product. Still, her love of pizza led to sampling — and rejecting — most of the commercially available pre-made crusts and flour mixes.
Wolf originally started the Gluten Free Explorer as a food blog in 2012, but she and her husband and business partner Rich Ouellette decided to make their recipes for a wider audience. In 2013, they got serious about trying to make a better gluten-free pizza at home, and after two years of testing came up with a formula good enough that they thought they could sell it. They launched the company from a commercial kitchen in January 2015; since then, their product line has grown to include two kinds of pizza crust, sandwich bread, French bread and hamburger buns.
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Wolf's focus has been on creating baked goods that can stand on their own and aren't just substitutes for wheat-based products. "It's about the food for us — it's almost a movement for me," she explains.
This year, Wolf made plans to attend the International Pizza Expo, primarily as a way to find clients who would carry her pizza crust and to learn more about the pizza industry. It was a last-second decision to enter the competition, but her chicken, bacon, broccoli ranch pizza ended up winning. Her entry was not only gluten-free, but also dairy-free, because she didn't want to serve a pizza to judges that she couldn't eat herself.
Wolf notes that her deep-dish pizza is good enough that the Good Son, which offers thick Detroit-style pizza on its menu, carries her brand instead of gluten-free dough from Udi's, a company that was founded by the Baron family, owners of the Good Son; the family sold Udi's several years ago, keeping their restaurants. Wolf has recently added sweet baked goods to her lineup and also sells a lemon-cardamom pound cake to the Good Son.
Home cooks can purchase all of the products on the Gluten Free Explorer website, and the pre-made pizza crusts and French bread rolls are available at select Natural Grocers locations.